5cents a pound

An archive of inspiration, negotiating the world through artistic intervention

Michael Zumstein: This House is not for Sale, Niger (2011)

Lagos, capital of Nigeria, is now paying the price for the country’s growth. Banks, telecommunications and oil companies try to settle in the city, making the price of land follow the surge of oil – Nigeria becoming world’s second exporter to United States. More attractive than ever, the city of Lagos has now to deal with thousands of migrants, coming from the inland and border countries to gather in squalid shanty towns. One of them, Festac Town, was a symbol of modernity in the 1970s, when it was built. Nowadays, the district no longer provides neither electricity nor running water but only precarious and derelicted housing conditions. As many others, its streets are often flooded because of almost nonexistent water management.The inhabitants of these shantytowns are the perfect target for property developers (and some of Nigerian state members), always trying to win any piece of land. The struggle is unequal, as the people living there have no idea what their rights are. Even if they try to resist estate agents harassment by writing on their houses’ walls “this house is not for sale”, they are still easily evicted. Eviction after eviction, the city of Lagos grows like a cancer, paying no attention to the living conditions of its 13 millions and more inhabitants, and making road traffic to the city center harder everyday.Only a very few get to live in wealthy districts such as Nicon Town, one of the new real estate projects built on the ground of evicted shantytowns, and surrounded with high fences and walls. To balance this anarchic growth, the SERAC (Social Economic Right Action Center) try to help the inhabitants of the unsanitary districts, and put pressure on Nigerian state to find a solution for those thousands of people. But the country itself appears as a victim of an uncontrolled development.

This work was produced within the project « Dignity – Human rights and poverty » of Amnesty International

*I appreciate that the photographer has take the time to capture the spirit of the people…

photo #4:

Makoko shantytown is one of the biggest of Africa. With the population explosion, the grounds of the shantytown are sought after by real estate developers.

photo #8: 

The Nicon Town real estate project on the wealthy Lekki Peninsula of Lagos in Nigeria is designed for the upper middle class.

photo #12: 

Evicted from Makoko shantytown in 1990, the Ilasan Housing Estate inhabitants are once again threatened with eviction. This housing estate which has never been serviced is sought after by real estate developers.

photo #13: 

Mr Melvin P. Daji (second left) is a lawyer. He hired of crew of workers to build wooden bridges for the inhabitants not to walk in the flooded streets of Ilasan Housing Estate. Evicted from Makoko shantytown in 1990, the Ilasan Housing Estate inhabitants are once again threatened with eviction. This housing estate which has never been serviced is sought after by real estate developers.

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    Captured so well.
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